Young people connecting with art for COVID-19 recovery project

Three people in a meeting room facing the camera. On the far wall is a TV display with artworks.

At the Yarra Ranges Council, we value and recognise that young people have contemporary knowledge and awareness of issues impacting the broader community.

As part of the Place Recovery Initiative, we have committed to providing Youth opportunities for purposeful community engagement through the pandemic recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic had an immense impact on young people in the community, particularly with isolation from friends and classmates. With schools and public gatherings restricted or operating online, Council considered ways to help reconnect young people and involve them in community-based projects.

In 2021, two VCE Creative Showcase finalists, Poppy Faul and Mitchell Edwards, along with Council’s Community Heritage Officer, Lucy Davies, were invited to join a decision panel to select art works created by local artists during the pandemic to feature on several Business Bounce Back Parklets.

Funded by the State Government, the parklets provide outdoor gathering spaces in our busy towns and places for artists to perform.

The panel reviewed each submission from artists for the parklets and selected finalists based on whether they:

  • Displayed or demonstrated a message of hope
  • Were created by First Nations artists, or under-represented or emerging artists
  • Displayed or demonstrated connection with nature or other people
  • Contained symbols of freedom or moving forward following the pandemic and associated restrictions
  • Demonstrated a range of different perspectives, styles, mediums or cultures and diversity

About 26 local artists submitted works to be featured on the parklets. The shortlisted submissions will be presented to township groups in parts of Yarra Ranges before final artworks are chosen.

The Business Bounce Back Parklets are expected to be finished by the end of June.

An artwork by Elliot Walsh in Sassafras - the image is of leaves in front of a mountainscape, with large words reading

One of our parklet art submissions, by Sassafrass’ Elliot Walsh. In their submission, Elliot said the piece was inspired by the amazing scenery of the Dandenong Ranges and the recent Be Kind Yarra Ranges initiative.

“This message really resonated with me the first time I saw it. It’s two simple words we could all be reminded of, especially during recent times. Being kind to someone doesn’t take much at all, but can have profound effects on the person you’re kind to.”

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